Jesus is the only one that his disciples need to know and speak of. From the cross, he proclaims that those who are his go through the crucible. They thus get to be just like him.
“The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, but the one that tests hearts is the Lord.” These words are wise, and pure as silver tested in the crucible.
For they teach that times of trials and adversities are times of grace, too. That is to say, they are opportunities to know who we are and what we are made of. To be steadfast also, the best we can be, and whole.
God, yes, puts those who are his in the crucible. And that is why their eyes, then, get to see him; they do not just know of him by hearing. Christians, for their part, follow their Teacher and suffer with him. Hence, they learn to obey, and they become channels of salvation and sharers in Christ’s priesthood.
Of course, this is all true of Vincent de Paul. God chooses him from those whom the world deems foolish, of no worth and throwable. He gets the call to be, as Jesus, more just than the scribes and the Pharisees. And to be perfect as their Father in heaven is perfect. And to be of those to whom the Father shows what he hides from the wise. But to be what the one who chooses or calls wants him to be, Vincent goes through testing.
The crucible that the one who gets the call to serve God and neighbor goes through
It pains Father Vincent that he has yet to make better his family’s financial standing (SV.EN I, 15). Such failure hurts him so much that it makes him weep bitterly. Still and all, he does not lose hope in God’s grace.
He also puts his trusts wholly in God when a roommate wrongly accuses him of stealing money. The accused and defamed and forced to live elsewhere does not defend himself; he just says, “God knows the truth.”
And as severe and strong doubts of faith torment him, Vincent digs deep within himself to hold on to faith. Not able to say the creed, he writes it down on a piece of paper. He puts the paper in the breast pocket of his cassock. And he just touches the paper when doubts assail him. That, then, is how he deals with his doubts and feelings of being forsaken by God. And this crucible of doubts and forsakenness turns out crucial for Vincent. For it leads him to make the vow to live and die serving those who are poor.
And with that vow, the one who has sought to get away from those who are poor is now free of doubts. He passes from darkness to light. He gets to see clearly that he cannot but be of the poor, and so, of their Evangelizer. For in them and in Jesus —nailed to the cross, giving up his body and shedding his blood— lies blessedness.
Lord Jesus, grant that we endure life’s adversities. Make them be the crucible that will toughen and give us strength us to go from darkness to light. And will turn us into bearers of good news.
27 September 2022
St. Vincent de Paul
Is 52, 7-10; 1 Cor 1, 26 – 2, 2; Mt 5, 1-12a